On 16th January Goutam Ghoshs Kaalbela will be released in city theatres. Here is an excerpt of the interview with the director prior to the release of the film.
You have made Kaalbela mainly for Television, right?
Actually it was ten-episode serial for Doordarshan. Usually I dont do any more television films. But this time Doordarshan had decided to film Sahitya Academy Award winning novels by noted film makers of this country. They approached Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Kasaravalli and me. So, I accepted the offer. After the shooting was over, a committee appointed by Doordarshan, which has people like Mrinal Sen, Suchitra Bhattacharya and Madhabi Mukherjee, decided that Kaalbela had the potential to be made into a feature film, and I agreed.
I think it was a very tough job.
Oh, yes! From long seven hours miniseries for television to a two hours film is a very difficult job. Actually the frames, the scenes, the dialogues, the screenplay all were meticulously done for a small screen. Even the development of the story was done for a series. So it was hell of a job to re-design it for a big screen.
It was their choice. But I accepted Kaalbela in the middle part of the trilogy. Samaresh Majumdars Uttaradhikar, Kaalbela and Kaalpurush. It is a documentation of a certain period in Bengal. I might have taken all the three, but I chose only the middle one become I know the period. I can easily identify the protagonist Animesh with me. In 1960s 70s we were all like Animesh. Its a nostalgic trip for me.
You might have faced a lot of problem during recreation of the post Kolkata.
Actually not central and North part of the city remains almost the same with a little bit of change here and there. I had to pick the right frame for it.
But dont you think todays young people will face a problem to identity with Animesh?
The politics, the city, the turmoil all one in the background. In the foreground there is love love between Animesh and Madhabilata. Kaalbela is basically a love story.
A still from Kaalbela
Is it like Love in the time of Cholera?
(Laughs) You may call it. But the form of the story telling is different. The entire period in coming through the flashbacks of Animesh, in 2009.
Is Animesh trying to relate with todays politics?
There is no deliberate or direct relating. If one tries, he may find some similarities. This is very subtle.
You have shot it is video format, have done reverse tele-cine for your theatre release.
These days there are at least 70 theatres to release digital movies. So, we have made Qube digital prints from the original television format.
Wont it affect the quality?
I think no. As a cinematographer I may have some problems regarding the formats or tonal quality of the picture I dont know as I have not seen the digital print yet. But to an ordinary cinegoer it wouldnt be any problem.
Wish you all the luck for Kaalbela.